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Fort Bragg paratroopers who responded to embassy attacks to soon return home

U.S. Marines in Iraq. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Kyle C. Talbot)

Paratroopers with the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division will soon start redeploying to Fort Bragg, officials said last week.

More than 3,500 paratroopers with brigade rapidly deployed to the Middle East on New Year’s Day, after Department of Defense officials said the Iran-supported Kataeb Hezbollah militia was responsible for attacks on the American embassy in Iraq.

In mid-January officials said some of the paratroopers from the brigade would be assigned to take over security at the embassy in Baghdad from the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response.

About 800 soldiers with the 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment; 3rd Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment; and the 3rd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment returned from the mission back to Fort Bragg in late February.

The remainder of the brigade has remained in the Middle East under the U.S. Central Command’s authority.

On Friday, a spokesman for the 82nd Airborne Division said the 1st Brigade Combat Team paratroopers will be placed into a 14-day quarantine to comply with Department of Defense and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines related to the coronavirus.

With 3rd Brigade Combat Team paratroopers completing their quarantine time a few weeks ago, about 26 paratroopers with the division remain in quarantine as a precaution, said Lt. Col. Michael Burns, a spokesman for the 82nd Airborne Division.

During a Fort Bragg virtual town hall meeting held Thursday, Lt. Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, commander of the 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, was asked about redeployment timelines.

Complying with operational security reasons, Kurilla did not publicly provide specific dates, but said families of soldiers with the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division and 108th Air Defense Artillery should be receiving information from chains of command and Family Readiness Groups.

On Thursday, Maj. Gen. James Mingus, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, said the remaining paratroopers will be returning in “the coming weeks.”

“These paratroopers executed the most significant rapid deployment of a combat force in more than 30 years, and I can’t express how proud we are of them … ,” Mingus said. “We can’t wait to get them back here to Bragg.”


© 2020 The Fayetteville Observer